EDITOR’S NOTE. The news of prosecution of Ukrainian Orthodox Church is gradually intensifying by the day: Initially, it was house arrest for Met. Pavel of the Kiev Lavra Monastery, then a number of attempts to kick the monks out, then court hearings, and now we have the arrest of Met. Pavel and the cancellation of Eastern Orthodox (old calendar) Christmas by Zelensky and his Nazi thugs…
If the Constantinople Patriarchate was not under severe prosecution by the Turks for centuries we could stretch our goodwill to “understand” Bartholomew’s pathetic silence. But it was and still is under severe prosecution: The Halki Seminary is closed forcefully for five decades and just last year the Turks turned Agia Sophia into a mosque. Yet this pathetic excuse of a human being, Pat. Bartholomew, cannot find it in its heart to issue a statement in support of religious freedom in Ukraine. Does he expect that the 70% of the Ukrainian Orthodox who are now under the Moscow Patriarchate will forcefully succumb to pressure and subject themselves to the schismatic Met. Epiphany? No chance…
Instead, the only thing Bartholomew will achieve will be to galvanize their belief that the satanic West is up to no good and it is not to be trusted – while all the truth and the faith resides with the East and Moscow…
But the time of punishment for Epiphany, Zelensky, and Bartholomew is approaching. The Ukrainians have lost the war, they are out of munitions and no matter what the globalists do they will have to accept this reality. Unless of course, they want to destroy humanity with WW III or a nuclear disaster…
If peace is achieved – very unlikely – the first article will be about the protection of religious freedom and human rights. If the Russians move west and occupy Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine, Bartholomew will not only have lost an “eparchy” but he will have lost everything – including his own throne. Because it will then be a matter of time before the Patriarchate is kicked out of Turkey…
BELOW IS THE NEWS IN ENGLISH AND IN GREEK
The trial of Metropolitan Pavel: what is next?
The authorities are acting gradually. First, they put UOC hierarchs under house arrest; now they open a new “Overton window” – for the first time, a bishop is in jail.
Late in the evening on July 14, 2023, Judge Victoria Zhovnovatiuk of the Solomianskyi District Court sent Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshhorod to jail, stating that he could be released from the detention centre on a bail of 33.3 million hryvnias.
It is clear that the bishop cannot gather such an amount of money, which means he is unlikely to be released from custody. It is also evident that the case against him was fabricated, and even the prosecutors themselves felt uncomfortable “proving the guilt” of the hierarch during the trial. We will not delve into all the twists and turns of the judicial process here. What interests us now is what happens next? In other words, what does the arrest of Metropolitan Pavel mean for the UOC, and can we somehow predict what awaits our Church in this situation?
Why Metropolitan Pavel?
Let’s start with the fact that Metropolitan Pavel is a very prominent and media-exposed figure. He is “guilty” of this both by his own actions and the deliberate portrayal of him as a church anti-hero by the domestic media. For many years, a myth of his “lavish lifestyle” has been cultivated, despite the absence of any concrete evidence of such “luxury,” except for the famous “Mercedes” gifted to him by a benefactor. It went so far that secular media rudely referred to the bishop by the brand of his car, as if he was the only one driving a luxury car, while, for example, another bishop like Dumenko uses public transportation.
At the same time, none of the journalists wanted to listen to stories about how Metropolitan Pavel personally helped seminarians with his own funds, how he covered their weddings, medical expenses, trips home, and so on. There could have been even more stories like this from the Lavra monks, but, as we said, these stories were of no interest to anyone.
What was interesting was the “Mercedes,” and the humiliation of the hierarch, and through him – the entire UOC. The media diligently equated the image of the bishop with the entire Church, projecting all his real and fabricated actions onto all hierarchs, priests, and believers. The bishop suffered from this, it hurt him, but he remained silent about this pain. He only spoke in court, emphasizing several times that he was no longer “Mercedes” but “Tesla”. Some may perceive his words as a joke, but in reality, they reveal such acute and unbearable pain that only someone who has been in his place can understand.
So, over these years, with the assistance of the authorities, journalists have succeeded in creating a negative image of Metropolitan Pavel in the public eye. Moreover, they succeeded to such an extent that even some believers, witnessing his arrest and imprisonment, say that “it serves him right”.
Indeed, the authorities chose the “right” victim. The very one they had been preparing for many years and used as a demonstrative example for their crackdown on the UOC.
Who are the judges?
Moreover, they didn’t just choose Metropolitan Pavel, but also the judges, prosecutors, and all the “participants in the process”. Everything that happened in court was a farce and a theatrical performance. Judge Zhovnovatiuk simply couldn’t make a different decision. After all, Victoria Zhovnovatiuk is a quite well-known and even scandalous figure. By the way, she drives a significantly more expensive car than the Lavra abbot. Her Toyota Land Cruiser 200 costs over 3 million hryvnias. In May 2023, there was a scandal around this car. When the improperly parked “Toyota” was taken by a tow truck, her husband rushed in and attacked the municipal worker, spraying tear gas at him.
Zhovnovatiuk was also accused of “serving the interests of criminality” and “political influence” from Petro Poroshenko (it’s no surprise that the decision to detain Metropolitan Pavel was made by someone connected to Poroshenko, is it?).
But what brought Zhovnovatiuk the most “fame” was her interview during the competition for the High Anti-Corruption Court, where she tried to evade direct answers to questions from Sir Anthony Hooper, the chairman of the Public Council of International Experts. As a result, Victoria Zhovnovatiuk was removed from the competition due to “reasonable doubts about her integrity”.
Therefore, she couldn’t make any other decision in the Metropolitan Pavel case. It’s so obvious that even Metropolitan Pavel himself said, “The judge showed that she is under pressure from people who are interested in this.” Moreover, she was not trying him for any specific but, according to Nikita Chekman, the abbot’s lawyer, “for the Orthodox faith, because there is nothing in the case file that is being hyped by the media. All these phrases are taken out of context”.
However, they are not just judging the bishop for that. It must be understood that in his person, they are judging the entire Church, the entire UOC. And even more, than that, they are judging the right of each of us to express our opinion. After all, everything that is incriminated to the bishop was said not publicly but in private conversations over the phone, which, in addition, were wiretapped by intelligence agencies without court permission.
Moreover, in his person, they are judging anyone who dares to call things by their names. Everyone who calls a schism a schism, a civil union – fornication, and homosexuality – perversion.
Also, in the face of the Metropolitan, they judge anyone who dares to think contrary to the existing “party line”. Now, a person not only has no right to speak what they think but also has no right to think what they think. In fact, they incriminated not only words to the bishop but also thoughts, presuming on his behalf what the judges believed he meant.
But, above all, they judge Christianity as a whole. This religion is inconvenient for the “new man”. Because the Gospel is about internal freedom that cannot be confined to a prison cell.
What is next?
A similar situation has already occurred in the history of the Church.
In the 1920s, the Soviet government decided that the Church was the only “legal counter-revolutionary organization” in the territory of the USSR. Why? Because the believers had their own views on the abuses perpetrated by the Bolsheviks, and their thoughts were difficult to control, making all of them “unreliable elements”.
Back in the 1920s, the Soviet authorities came up with a reason that allowed them to begin open persecution of the Church – the “expropriation of church valuables” in favour of the starving Volga region. This formal reason was necessary to “purge” the religious space of the Soviet Union from the “wrong” Church and make way for the “right” renovated Church. The one that was so compliant to the authorities that cartoonists even depicted its “clergy” in Budenovka hats. The same Church that was recognized by the Phanar (yes, coincidences even in this).
Those who disagreed with the transition faced a harsh fate: some of the clergy were expelled from the country, and those who refused to leave were sent to the Solovetsky Islands. And those who still did not forget about Christ even on the Solovetsky Islands were shot.
Today, a hundred years later, history is repeating itself. Our bishops, priests, and laity are once again offered to join the “right Church”, just as it was a hundred years ago. There is no doubt that those who refuse this transition will face the same consequences as a century ago – deportation from the country or imprisonment. Hopefully, they won’t be executing those who dissent, but it’s uncertain, judging by the use of hammers and tear gas already employed during church seizures. So, answering the question “What is next?”, we will say that everything that has already happened will repeat because “there is nothing new under the sun”.
The Church will face great difficulties again. But…
As it has happened many times before our days, Christ will triumph once again because He founded a Church that the gates of hell cannot overcome. The Church will triumph again, and its persecutors will sink into oblivion, covering their names with indelible disgrace.
Because “there is nothing new under the sun”.